Conditions set for future HK chief

Conditions set for future HK chief

Any HK chief who disagrees with central government cannot lead

The writing is on the wall: Anyone who confronts or disagrees with the central government can't be Hong Kong's chief executive.

This was spelled out on Friday by Li Fei, visiting deputy secretary-general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee and chairman of its Basic Law Committee, in a major address on Hong Kong's political reform.

The next chief executive to be elected by universal suffrage must also love the country and love Hong Kong, otherwise the city's relationship with Beijing, and the stability and prosperity it has long enjoyed, would be seriously harmed, Li said at a luncheon hosted by Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and attended by more than 100 community and business leaders.

"How could a person who doesn't love the country and Hong Kong, and who opposes the central government, be accountable to the central government? How could he implement directives lawfully issued by the central government? If such a person becomes chief executive, these Basic Law provisions would become a dead letter," he warned.

Li's remarks were the most forthright since he arrived on Thursday with his deputy, Zhang Rongshun, for a three-day visit for talks on Hong Kong's political structure ahead of the chief executive and legislative elections in 2017 and 2020.

His views were first expressed by Qiao Xiaoyang, director of the NPC Standing Committee's Law Committee, at a closed-door meeting of lawmakers in March.

Li said such a premise for an eligible chief executive candidate is backed on constitutional grounds.

At a closed-door seminar with senior government officials and executive councilors on Friday morning, Li said an enemy of Beijing could not perform certain constitutional roles set out in the Basic Law, thus effectively crippling the provisions.

Article 43 of the Basic Law states: "Hong Kong's Chief Executive shall be accountable to the Central People's Government and the HKSAR in accordance with the provisions of this law."

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